The blue table cloth on the balcony is wash-faded,
on the water the boats are dry with heat,
clear voices, unintelligible, are rising up from the beach.

Across the port, the peninsula has been scooped out
by some great rolling storm surge.
Shorn into cliff face
Tufts of scrub and rock are dug in like fingernails.

The sea has dried your curls into tight ringlets
amber and brass, they fall to your shoulders like
You leave the chair and now I can see in it, in the marks on the fabric,
the pressure left by other bodies.

On the white-washed wall there’s one tile, just one,
full and brown and sea-green like a sapling.

I’ll stand in this bare room, stock still
cold creeping up my toes from the concrete floor
walls breathing, like the silence.
the muddy perspex window is smaller than my eyes
my one good eye
sees cold spring finding a way in
past the graying fences.

If I could fly out of here I’d simply find another
standing spot
use my one good eye on the swan, the reeds, the dark shore,
cold still creeping up my legs from the mud.
freed from one small box,
straight into another,
just to stand staring at the water.


The sea-captain raised an eyebrow and said
“Tell him he can have
my own good name, a mouthful of eggs
all these receipts,
a window smudged with oil, a black cat, black tea, no
milk and a dead mackeral.
He can take this rounded off screw (no rust)
6p, in 2s
and this spoon shined hard with my spit – that’s it.”
I climbed back up the high sides of the ship
to our cabin, elated,
to tell you, finally, who was in charge.